It was the elevator ride of a lifetime for Jenae Lodewyk, a first-year student at the Mike Ilitch School of Business and Wayne State University sophomore. All she had to do was sell herself in 86 seconds to top business executive while cruising the floors of Detroit’s historic Guardian Building in the Ilitch School’s annual Elevator Pitch Competition.
“I remember thinking that all that I could do when I walked into that elevator was share with the judges the life I’ve come from, who I am, where I’m looking to go and hope that they see me,” she says.
In the final round, she pitched her personal statement to a boardroom panel of judges from Ally, Deloitte, Detroit Pistons, Enterprise and Google, earning first-place.
“My professor encouraged me to enter and step out of my comfort zone. I was hungry to jump into any opportunity to help me grow as a student and a business professional,” she says. She chose Wayne State because it’s the most diverse public university in Michigan. “I felt coming here would force me out of my hometown bubble, open doors for me and make me a more cultured person.”
In addition to enrollment in the Ilitch School, Jenae works for the Detroit Red Wings on the Red Patrol team. “They are very selective with who they want representing their fans,” she says. “Everyone is truly there to lift the community and I love that.”
Jenae says her long-term plan is to work in human resources in sports and entertainment. “I also want to do diversity and inclusion, because that is my passion.” To this end, she recently accepted a summer internship position for the Detroit Pistons to do just that.
Jenae walked away from the competition with much more than the top prize and honors. She says she has a new mentor at Google looking out for her, a summer internship in human resources at the Detroit Pistons and many Detroit leaders interested in hearing and seeing what she does next.
The Mike Ilitch School of Business, a vital addition to Wayne State University and The District Detroit, was created with a $40-million donation by Mike and Marian Ilitch. Since the gift announcement, the school’s total enrollment has increased by 40 percent, Graduate MBA enrollment has nearly doubled and now more than 4,000 students are closer to the downtown Detroit business community.